“Let me tell you what I wish I had known
When I was young and dreamed of glory
You have no control
Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?
Any fan of Broadway’s hit musical “Hamilton” knows these words. As I was watching the Disney Plus version again the other day, these lyrics really hit me. I’ve talked a lot about the stories in the press and in the public imagination about rural places, especially those in the rural South.
I am officially critical of the national media and the way they have portrayed our small but beautiful corner of the world. And it’s fine to criticize something, but more important than what we’re against, it’s what we’re for.
For my part, I’m all about amplifying voices that you don’t often hear about. As we consider Hamilton’s burning question, “Who says [y]our story?” The answer is very clear to me. We should. We all have our unique story to tell about this place.
Fortunately, the other people who help run the historic Palmetto Theater agree with me, including Dr. Thaddeus Jones. If you don’t know Dr. Jones, he’s a wonderful teacher and director who grew up in Varnville and helps us with our film programs. Who is best qualified to tell the story of Hampton County? All of us who call this place home.
And so the SLICE Short Film Festival was born. Coinciding with the conclusion of the Watermelon Festival June 24-26, 2022, this film festival will showcase short films that capture a “slice of life” in the rural south. We started advertising this festival a few weeks ago on Facebook and are already receiving submissions. Free entry. The best part is that you don’t need fancy equipment to make a short film. Most of us carry all the necessary equipment in our pockets! All you need is a smartphone.
We want all the stories. The good and the bad, old and young. What do we have here that you like? Do you wake up in the morning and go out to feed your cows? Does he hang around the corner while you wait for your school bus? Is it sitting with your spouse watching the sunset over Lake Warren? Does it make you sad to drive past the old Nevamar factory watching it deteriorate? All of these seemingly mundane details add up to the real sum of what it’s like to live in this place right now.
Of course, we also accept short narrative films. So don’t be afraid to show your creative side and enlist your family and friends as actors. Just make sure they somehow connect to show a “slice of life in the rural south”.
We will forward qualified applications from students to the Doko Film Festival held annually in Colombia. There will also be cash prizes, so be sure to follow Hampton County Arts on Facebook as more details are revealed. Entries will be judged by age group and there will be several categories, including a category for films made on a smartphone!
In addition to all these short films, each evening of the festival will offer a documentary film highlighting an aspect of life in our region. We are especially proud to present a feature film about our local arts program created by local high school students, “Corridor of Fame”, on Friday, June 24, after the street dance. The title, of course, refers to an oft-quoted comment by County Councilor Clay Bishop that “Our area, once called the Hall of Shame, will soon be known as the ‘Hall of Fame.’ June 25th we are very excited to screen a film created by Hispanic students in the Hanahan and North Charleston area “A Month and a Few Days” chronicles the immigrant experience here in the South Carolina Lowcountry and it will not sure to capture the attention and hearts of our local audience.”
Join us and take this opportunity to tell your story. If you’ve never made a film before, we’ll be offering a class with Dr. Jones on how to make a short film with your phone on April 30 at Studio 111. The class is $10 and starts at 1 p.m. Email [email protected] to register.